Diego Morales, despite touting his military service on the campaign trail, declined to respond to questions about it when records surfaced showing he didn’t fulfill his commitment. (Photo from Diego Morales’ Facebook Page)
Republican candidate for Secretary of State Diego Morales isn’t responding to questions surrounding his military service with the Indiana National Guard, even as confusion mounts over his records.
The Morales campaign didn’t directly respond to questions about his service, including why Morales didn’t finish his contract and whether the details were typical of military service.
“As to the validity and what is typical and not typical of the forms you can contact the United States Army and the Indiana National Guard,” the campaign said Thursday night.
A follow-up email was ignored.
According to the two forms supplied by the Indiana Republican Party, Morales joined the Indiana National Guard in 2007 as a specialist before being discharged in 2013. Typically, someone would be promoted from a specialist to sergeant within three years but Morales was discharged at the same rank.
In the absence of comment from Morales, Kyle Hupfer — chair of the Indiana Republican Party — sent a statement criticizing the media coverage.
“Indiana Democrats and their allies in the media have reached a new low. Rather than talk about the failing policies of out-of-control Democrat leadership in Washington, D.C., they’ve decided to act as judge and jury over what is and isn’t honorable service to our state and nation,” Hupfer said in a statement.
“Their attacks on Diego’s service in the Indiana National Guard are extremely disappointing. Diego — like thousands of Hoosiers — has honorably served our state and nation, and we at the Indiana Republican Party are thankful for this service and dedication.”
Morales heavily leans on his image as a veteran – using a photo of himself in uniform on both Facebook and Twitter. He also proclaimed himself as “the only U.S. Army veteran” in a May tweet announcing his intention to run.
Democrat Destiny Scott Wells is a Lt. Colonel in the Army National Guard and Libertarian Jeff Maurer currently serves in the Indiana Air National Guard in Terre Haute.
Maurer released forms documenting his service from 2021-2022, which indicate he is in the middle of a six-year commitment. Maurer has criticized Morales for declining to debate publicly.
“Because I believe in transparency and accountability, I am making public my DD Form 214 showing my most recent status with the military. Hoosiers deserve to know about our candidates’ backgrounds and policies, which is why I encourage my opponent to join me on the debate stage,” Maurer said in a statement.
Wells, in a Friday interview, detailed her service and shared her service records for the last 19 years since she joined the military in college at Indiana University.
“My husband is also in the service… to us, the military is not an experience, it is a lifestyle; it’s a lifestyle we both happily live, although it can be sometimes very hectic trying to balance our careers and serving in the military,” Wells said. “I celebrate the service of all my fellow brothers and sisters in arms and so I celebrate the service of Diego for the time he was in the military.”
Mike Hicks, a retired infantryman who served in the Army Reserve, highlighted the differences between the military careers of Morales and Wells.
“In reviewing the military experience of these two candidates, one of them enlisted for eight years and failed to meet the service obligation and failed to get promoted during that time and was eventually let go. The other one went from private to Lt. Col. at nearly record pace and, even after getting her graduate degree in law, remained an intelligence officer, volunteered to go overseas and serve and was selected repeatedly by promotion boards for higher positions of responsibility.
“There’s really no comparison between the two candidates in terms of character of service and responsibility and performance of those duties,” Hicks said.
This story has been updated to more accurately reflect Maurer’s service.
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